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Nook-Yoo-Ler. It's pronounced Nook-Yoo-Ler.

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Jim Bowden executed an eighteen-hour transactional orgy from late Thursday until Friday afternoon, trading guys, recalling guys, outrighting guys, and trading for guys. At the conclusion of the administrative whirlwind, Bowden had accomplished the following:

Out In
1B/PH Darlye Ward OF George Lombard
UT Marlon Anderson UT Melvin Dorta
RP Kevin Gryboski RP Chris Booker
RP Brett Campbell
RP Beltran Perez
OF George Lombard
OF Nook Logan

The Nats brought more "In" than sent "Out" because Friday marked the beginning of the forty-man active roster period. At the least, the new pitchers give Frank Robinson more options as he negotiates the pitching staff from hell. Dorta essentially replaces Anderson, and Lombard at least functionally replaces Ward. However, all of these moves serve as window-dressing to the real discussion, which is What on earth does Bowden see in Nook Logan?

Yes, yes---Logan's a toolsy outfielder. "Toolsy outfielders" are Bowden's perceived obsession, and the one indispensable skill Bowden values is speed. Logan may bring nothing else---actually, "may" is too conditional a word in this context---but he does bring speed. As Bowden told the Post:

"Nook brings us speed and defense in [center field.]"


In truth, this move isn't worth much scrutiny. The Nats gave up virtually nothing for Logan: either cash (undoubtedly not much) or a player to be named later (almost certainly of nothing beyond organizational-filler quality). There's a month left in the season, and if the team believes it needs a swifter man patrolling center in order to relieve the burden on the thread-bare pitching staff, especially considering the abundance of games remaining to be played at spacious RFK Stadium, then so be it. Other than providing yet another reason not to play Ryan Church, this move is unremarkable. (Lord only knows that any fan of the Nats is familiar with reasons not to play Ryan Church.) There seems to exist an undercurrent in the coverage that the Nats have "found" their man in center, but given the man who executed the transaction, this particular angle has to be inevitable. After all, Bowden is the man who tried to make Curtis Goodwin a starting centerfielder. Tried it twice, actually, after Goodwin had already failed before coming into Bowden's care.

And Goodwin is but one example.

Logan could be the Nats' fifth outfielder next season, or he could be the Nats' Opening Day centerfielder next season, but I would wager that he'll be both. He has his uses, but he simply hasn't and won't hit enough to be a regular on the big league level. Even affording Logan a Ryan Church-esque apologia that he's been hurt and probably disgruntled this season, thus placing in context his poor 2006 performance (a combined .218 at Double- and Triple-A), nothing in his his professional record offers evidence that he can hit. Logan has one decent 133-at-bat sample with Detroit toward the end of 2004; that is all, and I mean all, that keeps him on anyone's radar. Logan doesn't hit for average, he doesn't take many walks, and his occasional triples would look more impressive if they weren't natural and expected consequences of being so fast. (Logan was voted the fastest player in the Eastern League in 2003.) He doesn't have any power otherwise, and it seems pitchers can knock the bat out of his hands rather routinely.

Oh, and for all the Nats fans out there who bemoan strikeouts, just check this out: In his minor league career, Logan has fanned more than 100 times in a season three times---and, in a fourth, he had 95 in less than a full campaign.

Logan can run, so he can swipe bases and run down some balls in center. That's what he can do. Let's keep that in perspective.

* * * *

The preceding would mark the extent of the analysis devoted to this move, but for something else. And, with Bodes, there's always something else: the tried-and-true (and oh-so-tired) Bodesian Pufferation. No, "pufferation" isn't a word. But Jim Bowden pufferates. He makes it a word, makes it a verb. As he told the Washington Times:

"He's going from [the Tigers'] big-league club that's in first place to our club that's in last place."

Let's think about that for a second. It is true that the Tigers, a first place club, traded Logan to the Nats, a last place club. Of course, Logan is not really departing a first place club; in all truth, Logan didn't even have a single plate appearance for Detroit this season. And, in fact, the reason that Logan spent this season in the minors is because a better player beat him out for the starting job. The kind of player that a good team plays beat out Logan. Then this good team couldn't find a role for Logan. And now, with the active roster expanded and the playoffs upcoming, this first place club still didn't want him.

Last season, when the Nats acquired a toolsy outfielder named Kenny Kelly, it was reported that Kelly could be the 2005 Nats' version of the Dave Roberts from the '04 Red Sox---the guy who could come on and steal a big base late in the game. Well, guess what? Logan could have been the 2004 Dave Roberts for the 2006 Detroit Tigers. But the Tigers decided to trade Logan---for basically nothing. They thought that much of Logan.

So, yeah, Logan was traded from a first place club to a last place club. He's the kind of player who gets a lot of action for bad teams. Consider Logan a certain litmus test for the 2007 Washington Nationals.